"The best way we can convince the customers is that we need to address what our client does, that no other competitor can do."
M7: Could you tell us about your best practices for creating an ideal customer experience?
OT: A functioning website that loads quickly
Easy navigation and user experience
Clear offerings and clear unique value propositions (what is it that you do that no competitor does?)
Great social proof (testimonials and case studies from current clients, awards, etc)
Great customer service: prompt support, regular email check-ins to see how your customer is doing, offer deals and promotions - all of these things keep a customer coming back for more.
M7: While creating a unique value proposition, how do you drive in the utility? In other words, how do you convince the customer about the uniqueness of your service?
OT: We definitely have to utilize this through the headline and anywhere in the hero section of the landing page or the homepage because that’s where people are landing first and you need to be able to grab their attention in the first five seconds. So, the best way we can convince the customers, is that we need to address what our client does, that no other competitor can do.
If you can say we’re the only platform that does x, y, and z, that is a great unique selling point. Another thing to consider is backing up your clients with data. If you are offering some sort of platform that will save me time on the implementation of a process, then tell me how much time I’m going to save. If you say, “Cut down your execution time by 90% with our platform” that’s a unique value proposition. That shows the benefit to the user there, and that will entice users to click through and complete the form. So, gaining conversions is usually based around giving real data that explains exactly what value the visitors are going to see or how much money is going to be made or saved, and how much time is going to be saved to solve a problem with this solution. The other side of the coin is “we are the only ones that do x y z” and that will basically set a business apart from their competitors.
M7: How does collaboration and communication come into play in your role?
OT: It’s the entire job. I oversee a design team and I need to make sure my team is not only communicating with me but communicating with other departments. PPC, SEO, and CRO must all work together to get the job done and we’re stronger together than apart. I have daily follow-ups on different accounts, weekly meetings, client sync ups - whatever it takes to make sure that I and the rest of the team have complete transparency into what is happening with these accounts so that we can assist in whatever way we can. We want our specialists and account managers to own their strategy, but the directors are responsible for approving the strategy and improving it if needed.
"As designers, we need to remember that form follows function, so we must be sure that this information is easily accessible, that the message is clear."
M7: What are the biggest mistakes you see businesses making when attempting to optimize their site to increase conversions?
OT: These companies spend tens of thousands of dollars on a rebrand which will be done by a branding agency that has no knowledge of designing a site for increased conversions. Too many times we’ve had clients come in that just had a rebrand done and their conversions plummeted. So we will go in and audit the site to find out what is causing the problem. Too often, design takes over function but we must always remember that form follows function. As an example, the white space in the new site may be beautiful, but none of your visitors can even see what you’re offering until they get halfway down the page. Things like this are the biggest issues we see.
Also, with too many changes implemented at once, it makes it harder to pinpoint what caused the drop in conversions. It’s often times all of the things combined together that caused the problem. If a company is going to focus on increasing conversions, the changes need to be based on data and not on whims or best practices. Data doesn’t lie.
M7: What is the most challenging part of doing a conversion optimization project? What type of resource commitment do you require from your team?
OT: The most challenging part is that the results cannot be guaranteed. Our tests are based on data but they’re just that: a test, a hypothesis. Nothing is written in stone. 9 out of 10 times I will be right in my hypothesis, but there will always be a test that fails. We still celebrate the failure because we still learn from it. We can find out why the test didn’t work and use it to narrow down on what will work.
As far as resources are concerned, we want to make sure that we’re testing at least a few things each week per client. We use Hotjar for qualitative research as well as Google Optimize for on-page testing, and Instapage/Unbounce for landing page testing. Reporting is a big part of our deliverable so a good amount of our time is spent gathering the data and providing insights to the client.
M7: According to you, what prompts a visitor to scroll down to the bottom of a webpage?
OT: Usually you would have to have a message that entices them in the hero section of the landing page. Just like we discussed about the UVPs, we need to show the customer right when they land on the page, that this is the solution for your problem. That will entice them to scroll down. You can sometimes kind of coax people to scroll down: I like to use false CTAs to get more information and if they click that CTA, it will scroll down to the benefit section on the page and that will get people to start scrolling. And from that benefit section you could have a CTA linking to the case studies on the landing page and get them to scroll down even further on the page.
The main issue is people think of redesigning their page to look better and they see horrible conversions because it may be beautiful but it’s not functional. The messaging is vague and does not relate to what it is they do as a company that’s better than anybody else. They don’t adjust the benefits, and they’re too stuck on this flowery and technical language that a lot of SaaS companies like to use. So, the biggest thing is being very upfront with what you do in layman’s terms, making it as clear as possible to the lowest common denominator, so that you have a potentially larger pool of leads versus only having that technical jargon that only a few may understand. This usually relates a lot to B2B and SaaS clients. They get really hung up on their own language that’s very technical but the common man that needs their service doesn’t understand that...just tell them what the benefit is.
So, to summarize that long rant: basically, make sure that the messaging is clear about the benefits right away, then use CTAs on your page to entice people to keep scrolling so they continue to learn more. Keep people engaged and reading, section by section.
"Gaining conversions is based around giving real data that explains what value the visitors are going to see or how much money is going to be made or saved, and how much time is going to be saved."
M7: In a world where anyone can start a web-based business, generating trust is more important than ever before. Considering this, what impact does design have on revenue?
OT: It has a huge impact. If you land on a site that is poorly designed - it’s ugly, it’s confusing, you have no idea what they sell - do you think you would stay on that site for long? No, you’d go to a site that has a clear hero image showing the product and how it works, and a headline that explains what sets it apart from any other competitor product. The way information is presented is just as important as what information is being said.
One-size-doesn’t-fit-all and I’ve seen pages that - funny enough - looked horrible but converted better than the redesign we did, just because the form was more readily available. All the information was above the fold and it looked really scrunched. However, the customers got whatever they needed right away and that was what was important. So even when you’re seeing this image of bad vs good, we could argue that maybe the option on the right still won’t convert because it’s not quite explaining any unique value composition. It has a lot of beautiful imagery but it’s not getting to the point. Although these full-width websites with huge images is the trend, I think it needs to be taken with a grain of salt and used sparingly; and it needs to be dialed back a bit when it comes to conversions. You have these big beautiful images and people have to scroll very far just to get down to the first paragraph which is not good for conversions even though it’s trendy. As designers, we need to remember that form follows function, so we must be sure that this information is easily accessible, that the message is clear and if it is, then great! The beauty comes after that, but messaging has to be clear, concise, and easily understood.
M7: Directive Consulting ranks #1 on Google for “SEO Agency”. What SEO strategies and tools does the company leverage to channelize its sales campaigns?
OT: On page SEO and targeted guest posting with keyword driven anchor text. Then we continually write content around SEO and internally link back to our core SEO page.
M7: As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
OT: I wanted to be a speleologist (a cave scientist) for years. I was obsessed with caves, stalactites, and stalagmites. I’ve always been interested in maths and sciences, but there are dangers tied to being a cave scientist so I gave up on that. I still sometimes wonder what would have been if I had gone into the sciences instead of design. Maybe I’ll try it out in a few years!
M7: That sounds interesting! Have you visited caves in your earlier days?
OT: Yes, I did visit just a few caves, nothing big like the Man of the cave or Carlsbad cavern but as a child I was very interested in science – Biology, Zoology, Geology just the world around me and caves are interesting because they’re the dark places that not many people go to. I love history, I love biology so I think caves are kind of that interesting combination of both cause they’re ancient and they have these creatures that are so bizarre you know, like these blind salamanders which is like a different world there. I got very fixated on that for a few years as a child, reading all the books I could about it. I had my mind set, this is what I was going to do and I didn’t take into account the dangers of being a cave scientist. You’ll have to get into tight little spaces and there could be cavemen, you could get lost and stuck. Me being a homebody and kind of a bookworm, I decided, you know, maybe this is not the path for me, but I was also an artistic child. I was drawing all the time and that’s how I ended up in design school instead. So a very different path, but I still love science and history so I might dabble in it later in my life but for now it’s been design.